I'm considering starting Aikido training, and am wondering how you all feel about the level of physical conditioning it gives?
In other words, is Aikido practice a whole body workout, or is it mostly in the mind? Do you ever wish AIkido was more of a workout than it really is?
I'm fascinated by the internal, psychological aspects of Aikido but alas my computer-bound work life necessitates me doing something active to stay fit.
The Aikido literature I've read doesn't seem to talk about this too much, so I'm asking for some insider feedback. I did visit a local dojo and was amazed at the level of physicality - it looked like pro wrestling sometimes.
well, it sounds like you already found out by watching how physical it can be. Of course, each dojo differs in how much of a workout you can receive, and you yourself can vary how much energy you put into it.
when i started Aikido i had been running every day, and for a while i did both each day, then as my desire (and need!) to practice at home increased, running eventually tapered off and then stopped. I'm in the USAF, and we have a fitness test each year, part of which is a heart rate monitored stationary bike test---kind of like a simplified stress test. i worried that i would not do as well as i used to do when i ran every day, the first time i took my bike test after going to all-Aikido workouts. Not only did i score as well as i always did (can't say better because it is in percentiles, and i was already at the top), but my legs hurt a lot less---guess the muscles needed to bike, while not the same as running, are similar to the ones needed for shikko.
i think weapons work has kept my arms in shape, although i still do pushups and weights, so hard to say.
finally, it has always been difficult for me to exercise to a point where i break a sweat---even on long road marches...but i'm drenched by the end of an Aikido class.
I hope you give it a try!
I've been involved in one type of physical exercise or another for the better part of my life. Being from the Midwest (Nebraska) I was heavy into power lifting, wrestling, FOOTBALL and cross country skiing. After watching my first Aikido class I thought, hey, I'm in great shape, this should not be a problem for me. WRONG! four years later I still feel it the morning after an advanced class. I believe the beginner in Aikido gets the best "workout" primarly because they have not learned to relax yet.
But in short, yes, I believe Aikido is a great all around body exercise! (Not to mention what it does for the spirit! )
TRY IT YOU'LL LIKE IT!
train hard, train soft, whatever, just train!
I think that any physical activity will help you out. I remember that when I would get done with Aikido I would be all sweaty.
Also, I read "The Invincible Warrior" by John Stevens and it talked about how much physical work that Ueshiba did to get stronger (cutting would and hauling it, etc.). I have also read stories about even when Ueshiba was older when he grabbed your wrist it would leave a bruise.
I think that there is a fine line in Aikido. The body should be strong, but the techniques should not rely on that strength. It's almost an oxymoron. The stronger the body the more relaxed and fluid it can be because there is less effort to move.
I felt the same as Mongo's post above during my first class. I was perspiring harder after warmups and aiki taisos than I ever had at karate- not because karate training was inferior at all (quite the opposite), but it was simply something new, and quite unexpected- porobably because during the class I watched after karate one night, they all seemed to be moving without effort... or to plug a Lowry book, Moving Towards Stillness...
Man, I started rambling again... oh well, thanks for listening all :).
You get out what you put in
There are going to be classes where you'll think that if you hit the mat one more time there is no possible way you're going to get back to your feet. There will also be classes where you are going to worry about cooling down too much between techniques. The truth of it is that you'll get out of it as much as you put into it. You obviously have an idea of what you need in terms of physical fitness, so the trick becomes not letting yourself give in when you're coming to the end of your endurance, or you're a bit sore.
Regardless of the activity, just when I'm about to give up I always tell myself that only just RIGHT THEN, did I start to grow... because right then I reached the limit of what I could do comfortably, and where is the resistance in that? When I'm ready to give up I'm stretching not only what my body had done before, but also what my mind thinks it can handle. In aikido that means hitting the mat again and forcing yourself to get up.
And I can tell you, my aikido gets me to that point more often and faster than my TKD training does - as counter-intuitive as that sounds. You won't regret it if you start training, IMHO.
My sensei enjoy when I'm totally worn out (especially during randori)... they say, "Good, you're worn out, you can't use muscle- now you might get it right!"
Or something to that effect.
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